So, I recently stumbled across the Unhappy Hipsters blog, which for the most part I think is great: it takes images from Dwell magazine and gives them captions that turns the trendy design-and-lifestyle layouts into evocative vignettes, little short-short stories about alienation and modernity. I tend to like blogs that do this, take an image and build a story around it: I love, for instance, the “Secret Life of Dresses” series on A Dress A Day. And I don’t, personally, much like modern architecture or design—to me all those shiny, graywashed, hard-edged surfaces seem antiseptic and even anti-human, although I understand that some people find them soothing and restful, or alternatively “interesting” and “challenging”—so I’m fairly sympathetic to a blog that takes a snarky look at that aesthetic.
But having recommended Unhappy Hipsters, I want to also talk about that word “hipster,” which has recently exploded in usage. For example see latfh.com, which is mostly about mocking kids who are having fun with their clothes. In fact a large part of the the “hipster” sneer seems to be a cut at people who take too much interest and enjoyment in a certain subject. Somebody on the New York Times comment section, for instance, called me a “fucking hipster” when I said I liked dark chocolate.
So a hipster is somebody who just likes trendy things, right, except where “trendy” is defined relating not to mass culture but to the specific trends of a young urban demographic. But here’s the thing—only people in that demographic would recognize the trends. Only somebody who’s familiar with the bands, the food, the festivals, the fashion, would have the capacity to recognize and to object to certain preferences on the grounds that they are overdone or too popular. And only somebody who actually worries about whether or not their own tastes are suitably idiosyncratic would even think to insult somebody else on that basis.
Therefore, the people who devised use of the word “hipster” as an insult (in its current popular usage) are clearly OTHER HIPSTERS. Nobody else knows or cares enough about the subcultures in question to police authenticity in this way. Nobody else gives a shit about what’s really cool and what’s overplayed and poser-y. And in the end, it comes down to making fun of people for what they enjoy, which is petty and mean.
So I guess this is an elaborate “no YOU are” to that dude in the nytimes.com comment section? And also, I like Unhappy Hipsters for the stories it creates, but I think the title of the blog probably says a lot more about the people who created it than it does about people who happen to like Dwell magazine.